Cursive writing has been making a comeback in classrooms

Apr 12, 2019, 2:51 PM
cursive writing education classroom student...
Photo: Getty Images

(CNN) — It’s a familiar refrain. Parents lament that technology is turning good, legible cursive handwriting into a lost art form for their kids.

In response, lawmakers in state after state — particularly in the South — are carving out space in teachers’ classroom time to keep the graceful loops of cursive writing alive for the next generation.

Alabama passed a law requiring it in 2016. That same year, Louisiana passed its own cursive law. Others like Arkansas, Virginia, California, Florida, North Carolina, have similar laws.

Texas is the latest state in which educators are pushing to bring back cursive writing in elementary schools.

The changes in the Lone Star State, which were adopted in 2017, are set to go into effect during the upcoming 2019-20 school year.

Each state’s curriculum differs in subtle ways. The roadmap described in the Texas Education Code, for instance, includes requirements for instruction to begin with teaching second graders how to form cursive letters with the “appropriate strokes when connecting letters.”

Third graders would focus on writing complete words, thoughts, and answers to questions, and fourth graders would need to be able to complete their assignments outright in cursive.

Cursive is again becoming widespread across the South

Data compiled by the Southern Regional Education Board in 2016 showed that 14 of the 16 states the SREB oversees expect that cursive instruction begin by the third grade.

The year 2010 was a “pivotal year” for the cursive comeback, the SREB says. That’s when “college- and career-readiness standards did not explicitly include it,” including the national Common Core standards. The SREB showed the number of cursive-teaching states dropping from 12 down to six that year.

But by 2016, the flowing script has rebounded up to 14 Southern states. With another Southern state, Texas, coming on board that makes 18 total in the US.

Advocates for handwriting have struggled against technological change

Anne Trubek, the author of “The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting,” told CNN that efforts to emphasize cursive have been ongoing “for years.”

And debates about whether we should preserve handwriting are not a strictly modern phenomena, as various periods in history featured standoffs between traditionalists and those who favored new writing and communication technologies.

In ancient Greece, Socrates had opposed writing outright, Trubek noted. The philosopher preferred the Greeks’ oral tradition and felt those who didn’t write things down would preserve a “better memory,” she said.

Later, monks in the Middle Ages agitated against the invention of the printing press, which threatened to make their beautiful, hand-copied texts obsolete.

As inventions like the printing press and the Internet catapult humanity forward, “there will be a loss,” Trubek said.

In the history of handwriting, we’re in a unique place in which most Americans alive learned cursive writing, and efforts to re-instill cursive in a new generation of youth represented a new “reaction” to ongoing change, she said.

A handwriting scholar doesn’t think cursive is an essential modern skill

Today, debates in favor of cursive take the form of “tradition strangely grafted onto patriotism,” she said, nothing that some legislators complained that if students didn’t learn how to write in cursive, then they wouldn’t be able to read the Declaration of Independence.

Trubek, who served as a tenured professor at Oberlin College, said she herself can’t read the original flowing script of the Declaration of Independence, and there was nothing wrong with students reading the nation’s founding documents in transcribed versions with fonts legible to modern eyes.

Trubek also said students didn’t necessarily need cursive to come up with their own signature that conferred their “indviduality” and “uniqueness” in signing legal forms either. She said technology like the chips in credit cards were more effective in preventing fraud than in pen-and-paper signatures that can be forged.

“I don’t think children should be required to learn cursive if they don’t want to,” Trubek said.

But, still, she said careful, thoughtful has its virtues. “It’s a fine motor skill,” and taking time to skillfully perfect the art has positive effects on students’ cognitive development.

“Handwriting is slower,” Trubek said, “And sometimes you just want to slow down.”

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Education + Schools

The Utah Education Association is opposed to H. B. 215. The UEA says school choice and a teacher pa...
Devin Oldroyd

School choice bill is “limiting” public schools, UEA president says

Utah Education Association president Renee Pinkney says the controversial school choice bill is "weakening" and "limiting" public schools.
1 day ago
Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork is pictured on Friday March 12, 2021. Students at Spanish ...
Mark Jones

Concurrent enrollment provides students with options in Nebo School District

Programs such as concurrent enrollment can give high school students and their parents options.
1 day ago
artificial intelligence banjo...
Curt Gresseth

ChatGPT: Plagiarism super-tool for students or AI brainstorming generator?

Will the future of AI be the interactive chatbot ChatGPT helping cheaters ace exams and tests or a new tool to assist all students in learning?
1 day ago
Shots were reportedly fired in the parking lot of Taylorsville High School on Thursday afternoon, l...
Simone Seikaly

Suspects in custody, lockdown lifted after shots fired at Taylorsville High

Shots were reportedly fired in the parking lot of Taylorsville High School on Thursday afternoon, leading to lockdown and lockout procedures.
1 day ago
East High School teacher Elyse Arrington, center, cheers during a teacher and student walkout prote...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

Teachers at West High School walkout in of protest H.B. 215

Roughly 20 West High teachers held a walkout Wednesday in protest of H.B. 215.
2 days ago
lake restoration...
Mark Jones

BYU study: Great Salt Lake could dry up in 5 years if changes aren’t made

A study co-authored by a BYU professor says the Great Salt Lake could be gone in five years unless changes are made.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Cursive writing has been making a comeback in classrooms